Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (born August 1934) is a prominent Iranian cleric and politician who has been one of the most influential political figures in Iran.
Rafsanjani was protesting against the former Shah of Iran in Qom city as early as 1964, and helped establish revolutionary foundations along with Imam Khomeini, the late founder of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. They led the struggles against the Shah and Pahlavi rule. He was viewed as Imam Khomeini's right hand man and played a vital role in the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979.
After the victory of Revolution and during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), Akbar Hashemi was named as the second most powerful political figure in Iran. He played an important role during the war and pushed acceptance of the UN resolution which ended the war.
After the war in 1989, he was elected as Iran's president for two terms and adopted different measures during his 8-year tenure in different internal and foreign political, economic, military and security arenas, which was know as the era of reconstruction.
Rafsanjani played a decisive role in the Assembly of Experts in the country and fostered the election of the current leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
As the head of the Expediency Council before his death, he meaintained relations will all of Iran’s leading groups because of his relatively moderate and thoughtful views about Iran’s future. In 2009 when the reformist impetus lost its momentum during the presidential election, Hashemi was the only leader who kept alive the reformist ideals which ultimately led to a return of reformist principles to Iranian society. During the election of 2009, given his and his family's support for Mr. Mir Hossein Moussavi, the reformists' candidate, he was criticized frequently by the Iranian government and accused of accompanying the protestors and lost the leadership of the Assembly of Experts. After this, his relations with the Iranian leader darkened for a period. Yet he became a candidate in the presidential election in 2013 for the fourth time
but his age was a mitigating factor. During that election, Rafsanjani's support for Hassan Rouhani empowered the moderate reformist stream again and he regained popularity among the Iranian people.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani passed away in January 2017 from heart attack at the age of 82. He was known as Iran's “heart of secrets” for his key roles in Iran's history and many believe that many of Iran's secrets were buried forever with his death.
On the day of his recent funeral over three million Iranians came out to mourn his passing. This mass participation of different political parties made the funeral the second most profound memorial event in Iran's modern history -- the first one was the funeral of Imam Khomeini, who spearheaded the revolution and the deposition of the Shah